ANTICIPATING CUSTOMER NEEDS — THE ART OF OMOTENASHI

ANTICIPATING CUSTOMER NEEDS — THE ART OF OMOTENASHI

There’s a concept in Japanese called omotenashiomo means public face (the way you choose to present yourself to the world), and nashi means nothing. Omotenashi means public face without pretense, without equivocation. It is the heart of the Japanese notion of mindful hospitality — it means you can anticipate the needs of your guest and address them without your own ego getting in the way. It is the spirit that refers to the Japanese culture’s uniquely calm and anticipatory hospitality.

We took a deep dive into omotenashi and followed Malcom Gladwell, a self-described car nut, as he visited Lexus headquarters in Japan. There he discovered how omotenashi has influenced Lexus since its inception in 1989, from cars covered in fur to why flowers are essential to engineering. He shares his experience in an informative and entertaining series of podcasts. From Gladwell and his Lexus cohort, Paul Williamson of Lexus College, we discovered the essence of omotenashi, the philosophy that informs every aspect of Lexus design.

Here we take a look at how you can apply the spirit of omonetashi, which may seem esoteric, to the everyday practicalities of your Wholesale Parts Business.

Omonetashi and Lexus

The spirit of omotenashi sets the tone for Lexus culture worldwide and brings to life the Lexus brand covenant: “We will treat each customer as we would a guest in our home.” As a result, Lexus dealers are renowned for such hospitality-related qualities as helpfulness and attitude, standard of workmanship, and technical knowledge. Embracing the spirit of omotenashi throughout your business will differentiate you from your aftermarket competitors and help turn Independent Repair Facility (IRF) prospects into loyal customers.

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Anticipating Your Customers’ Needs

Whether in the showroom, on the service drive, or at the wholesale parts counter, the Lexus guest experience differentiates you from your competitors. That experience is based upon treating your wholesale customers like a guest in your home by anticipating their needs. All it takes is some thought and attention to detail!

Begin by thinking about the customer journey throughout the wholesale parts transaction and consider each touchpoint, from ordering to fulfillment and delivery. Then, regularly record in their customer files each customer’s specific preferences at each touchpoint. Paul Williamson advised us to use these preferences to anticipate your customers needs. 

“Do they prefer to order by phone or online? When their order arrives, do they prefer to be alerted by phone, text, or email? Do they like their orders to be stacked or wrapped in a certain way? Does the driver usually want water or coffee? Do they typically request help loading the order onto their truck? Do they often request technical guidance? If so, be sure you set aside time to assist rather than rush your customer through or make them wait,” said Williamson.

Review the customer’s file when you receive their order, plan ahead, and deliver a welcoming experience, just as you would a guest in your home. You can be sure they’ll receive better treatment at your dealership than at their next stop!

New Accounts and Prospects

It may seem challenging to anticipate the needs of new accounts, because you have not yet established a relationship. Social media is a great place to start — check your prospect’s LinkedIn page for background details and posts. Knowing a little about a prospect in advance can give you a leg up in creating a personalized guest experience. A Parts Department open house or customer appreciation event is also a great way to get to know prospects, nurture future business relationships, and show genuine gratitude to your customers. It’s also the perfect environment to allow new customers to experience Lexus omonetashi first-hand. For tips on planning and hosting an event go to GENERATE AND EXPAND NEW BUSINESS.

Model the Behavior

Omonetashi is not just one person’s job in your dealership — it is the Lexus way of treating others and it begins with you. Model the behavior that you expect from your frontline employees. The only way they can deliver omonetashi is if you treat your employees with the same respect and courtesy. Be consistent and watch omonetashi and your business grow!

Your dealership’s omonetashi toward your wholesale customers will likely translate to the hospitality that those shops provide to their Lexus customers. “A Lexus guest with an older model vehicle may take their Lexus to an aftermarket shop, but that shop’s buying Lexus Genuine Parts from you — and their relationship with you will help ensure exceptional, respectful treatment toward their Lexus guest,” concluded Williamson.

Fundamentally, Lexus believes that if we can instill omonetashi into every aspect of the value chain, every Lexus owner will have a more enjoyable ownership experience. That is the Lexus way — that is omonetashi.

Follow Malcolm Gladwell to Lexus headquarters in Japan where he discovers the spirit of omotenashi. In these podcasts Malcolm discovers cars covered in fur; why flowers are essential to engineering; and how a motion as simple as a closing window tells you everything you need to know about omotenashi, the philosophy that informs every aspect of Lexus design.

Click the image or click here to listen to the podcast or listen on Apple Podcasts.

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